Autumn 2017 School of History Research Seminar series

This year, our research seminars will take place on alternating Wednesdays (weeks 1,3,5,7,9, & 11) in term time at 4PM in Eliot Lecture Theatre 2 (ELT2). We also have an excellent line-up of post-graduate seminars that will take place at 5:15PM in Rutherford Seminar Room 7 (RS7) on the other Wednesdays (weeks 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, & 12). Please see the attached schedule for a full list of speakers.

In week 1 (at 4PM on Wednesday 27 September), we are delighted to welcome Dr Suzanna Ivanič, a new lecturer in Early Modern History here at the University of Kent.

The title of her paper is Locating Religion in the Homes of Seventeenth-Century Prague Burghers.

A recent focus on religion in the home has provided fertile new evidence about lived religion – the beliefs, practices and identities of the faithful in an everyday context – but, what if we interrogate the relationship between the home and religion more thoroughly? How does religion change as it crosses the threshold? Is ‘domestic devotion’ really more unorthodox and individualistic? What do we mean by ‘domesticating’ religion? It is now well-established that not only Protestants, but also Catholics, practised religion in their homes in early modern Europe. By analysing inventories and objects from the multiconfessional setting of Prague across the seventeenth century, this paper explores the differences in domestic religious practice between confessions, how domestic space enabled unique aspects of devotion (‘private’ forms or particular rituals focusing on doors and beds, for example), and how objects that came into the home could either subvert or reinforce orthodoxy and orthopraxy within this extra-ecclesiastical space.

As ever, a drinks reception will follow this seminar. Please see the attached poster for more information.

The ‘British’ churches 1603-1707: from dynastic union to Anglo-Scottish union

On 22 June 2017 the University of Kent’s School of History and Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies will be hosting an international conference ‘The ‘British’ churches 1603-1707: from dynastic union to Anglo-Scottish union‘.

The two-day conference, timed to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the launching of the Five Articles of Perth by James VI & I in Scotland in 1617, is held in collaboration with Canterbury Christ Church University and its Centre for Kent History and Heritage.

All conference sessions will take place in Keynes College on the University of Kent’s Canterbury campus and aim to bring together scholars with an interest in religion across the British Isles during the 17th century.

The Conference will also include the official launch party for Dr Leonie James’s new book – ‘This Great Firebrand’: William Laud and Scotland 1617-45 (Boydell Press, 2017).

Further information about the Conference including a programme and registration details can be found on its dedicated webpage.

Dr Higgitt presents the Transit of Venus 1874 digital collection

Dr Rebekah Higgitt introduces a digitised collection papers, photographs and drawings transit-of-venus-thumbnailrelating to the history of astronomy, now available at Cambridge Digital Library. Funded by the University of Kent and the British Society for the History of Science, her project has made items from the archive of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, and a private collection available to the public. They focus on the British expeditions organised to observe the 1874 transit of Venus, particularly the one made to the Sandwich Islands (Hawai’i). The collection includes photographs of the observing instruments, huts and sites; details of the equipment and provisions taken overseas; official and private journals and a truly unique set of caricature drawings that follow the “Life and Adventures” of the Hawai’i observers.

To see the digitised papers click here.

British Human Rights Organizations & Soviet Dissent, 1965-1985

Congratulations to our Research Support Officer and Honorary Research Fellow Dr Mark Hurst, whose book ‘British Human Rights Organizations & Soviet Dissent, 1965-1985‘ was released by Bloomsbury today!9781472522344 (002)

The book explores the British response to Soviet human rights violation, drawing on Dr Hurst’s extensive archival work and interviews with key individuals from the period.

In the latter half of the 20th century, a number of dissidents engaged in a series of campaigns against the Soviet authorities and as a result were subjected to an array of cruel and violent punishments.

A collection of like-minded activists in Britain campaigned on their behalf, and formed a variety of organizations to publicise their plight. British Human Rights Organizations and Soviet Dissent, 1965-1985 examines the efforts of these activists, exploring how influential their activism was in shaping the wider public awareness of Soviet human rights violations in the context of the Cold War.

Find out more here.

Dr Ben Marsh appears on BBC World Service

Dr Ben Marsh featured on the BBC World Service’s History Hour this week, commenting on a story recalling the journey of a group of pioneers called The Donner Party, who were attempting to reach California by wagon when they were trapped by snow in the winter of 1846. Some were driven to cannibalism to survive, and their gruesome story has become a legend of the American West.

Listen again to the programme here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03bgxzt

Professor to curate major exhibition on secret science during the Cold War

Professor Ulf Schmidt and Professor (emeritus) David Welch from the School of History have been given the “green light” to curate a major exhibition on “The War of Nerves: Secret Science during the Cold War” in collaboration with Wellcome Collection.

US Civil Defense Poster (1951)

US Civil Defense Poster (1951)

Current plans envisage the exhibition to open first at the Wende Museum, Los Angeles, before moving to the new, much expanded exhibition space at Wellcome Collection, London. The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of public engagement events and conference activities.

Further details and exhibition dates will be included here as soon as they are announced.

For more information on Professor Schmidt’s work within this area, including his new book, see here.

Secret Science: A Century of Posion Warfare and Human Experiments

Ulf Schmidt Secret Science CoverProfessor Ulf Schmidt’s latest book Secret Science: A Century of Poison Warfare and Human Experiments has been used to inform an episode of BBC World Service’s Witness radio series.

Since acting as a principle expert witness on informed consent in the 2004 Inquest looking into the death of Ronald Maddison, a twenty-year-old Royal Air Force engineer who died after being exposed to a nerve agent at Porton Down in 1953, Professor Schmidt has researched and written about the history of medical ethics and national security in post-war British and European societies.

His latest work, Secret Science: A Century of Poison Warfare and Human Experiments, provides a comprehensive history of chemical and biological weapons research in Britain and North America by incorporating previously top secret military, scientific, and government archival material with interviews with servicemen and scientists whilst recognising developments in global debates on medical ethics.

Professor Schmidt’s research has also been used to inform an episode of BBC World Service’s Witness on Chemical Weapons Tests at Porton Down.

Update 09/07/2015:

Professor Schmidt’s research has appeared as a major news item on the University of Kent website and in The Independent newspaper.

Secret Science is published by Oxford University Press and more information can be found on the publisher’s catalogue.

School Fellow works on Magna Carta celebration

Centre for the History of Sciences Fellow Sarah Craske has been involved in the production of a new art installation, commissioned to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta, and unveiled to the Queen and senior royals today (15th June 2015).

Prince William with artist Hew Locke, who designed 'The Jurors'.

Prince William with artist Hew Locke, who designed ‘The Jurors’.

The piece, called ‘The Jurors’ by artist Hew Locke, has been installed at Runnymede, Surrey, where King John sealed the original document in 1215. It was unveiled to the Queen and other members of the Royal family, as well as Prime Minister David Cameron.

The installation includes 12 bronze chairs, casted by Sarah Craske and her team at Meltdowns Studios in Ramsgate.

Further information about the piece can be found here.